Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sister - Rosamund Lupton

Sister - Rosamund Lupton (2010)

I hung onto my library reservation for this one for ages, it might have been at least four months of waiting.  So when I received a big pile it was the first one I started on.  Then tonight, when I went to post about it, I saw that my book blogger idol S.Krishna's Books had written her reviewed and loved it. 

I did want to love it, a story about a woman living in New York, who travels home to London when she gets a call to find out that her sister is missing.  Once there, she is told that her sister was depressed and killed herself, and finds that others are unwilling to consider other options.  So, by asking lots of questions, she discovers secrets about a lost baby, a married lover, threatening phone calls and a stalker.  All of it the elements of any modern thriller, but something about the narrative grated to me, and I seemed to get a touch confused as it flitted back and forth in time.

Also it seems so many thrillers end up with the main character discovering who done it, then being pursued and confronted by the axe wielding maniac, trapped in a room, and that for me stops it being believable, the climax that becomes the anti climax.

It has to be a 2/5 for me, only because at the end I was really wanting it to end.  Sorry to all those who loved it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

What Alice Forgot - Liane Moriarty

What Alice Forgot - Liane Moriarty (2008)

Alice falls over at the gym, hits her head and forgets everything after 1998, including her three children.  So with her ten year amnesia her friends and family have to fill her in with everything that has happened and how her life has changed. 

It is an interesting idea, and I like that she doesn't like the person she has become, the perfect clothes, hairstyle and makeup, and tries to amend her ways.  It was an ok grey cloudy weekend read, but a bit long, I was wishing for it to end three quarters of the way though.  3/5

And the Band Played On - Christopher Ward

And the Band Played On - Christopher Ward (2011)

With the 100 year anniversary of the Titanic sinking coming up, one can expect a slew of books and repeats of the boat movie to come up, but that's ok, it's one of those stories that we all enjoy.  This one is written by the grandson of one of the violinists who played on the deck as the boat went down.  Leaving behind a pregnant girlfriend, we learn about the bitter father, the distraught sister and the ruthless employers. 

An interesting wee read, I enjoyed learning more about the sinking, and for that it is a 3/5.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Villa Girls - Nicky Pellegrino

The Villa Girls - Nicky Pellegrino (2011)

For us, it is the perfect book reading time of year.  TV sucks as usual, and the long dark evenings make it perfect for climbing into a warm bed and reading for an hour before lights out.  I'm not a big lover of the Chick Lit genre, as so much of it is overly simplified and cheesy, but Nicky Pellegrino usually manages to knock out a book that is easy to read, and has interesting characters.  Of course all the mentions of tasty Italian food descriptions can have you dreaming of creamy pastas too.

In this one we get to hear of two stories:  Rosie, the orphaned sad photographer who goes on holiday with her friends and Enzo, the sad young man working with his family on the olive estate.  How will they meet?  Will they stay together?  What will Nonna think?

So on grey cool days, it was good to be reading a story set in summer seaside Spain and Italy, I could see the scenes in my head, and for that I give it a 4/5.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Divorce Party - Laura Dave

The Divorce Party - Laura Dave (2008)

Maggie and Nate are off to his childhood home to help his parents celebrate their Divorce Party.  After 35 years together things are crumbling and they are trying to hold it together til the end.  After a turbulant arrival Maggie, who hasn't met the parents begins to discover things that she didn't know about her fiancee and begins to question their relationship.

Light and entertaining without being cheesy, you can picture the beachside house and barn, and it seems perfect for the Dear John/The Notebook movie treatment.  3/5

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sideways on a Scooter - Miranda Kennedy

Sideways on a Scooter - Miranda Kennedy (2011)

Miranda Kennedy is a journalist who goes to live in Delhi while reporting  across South East Asia.  The biography starts with her trying to find a place for a single woman to live, which she only finds possible when she explains that her made up husband is soon to come and join her.  The next step is finding cleaners and maids and making new friends.

It is the stories of these friends and employees that make this book enjoyable, and even though it was a bit of a slow start I plowed through it pretty quickly.  It is a good comparison of social and moral guidelines in both the US and India, without being too judgemental and this gentle touch makes me think that it is worth a 4/5.

Bedpans and Bobby Socks -Barbara Fox and Gwenda Gofton

Bedpans & Bobby Socks - Barbara Fox and Gwenda Gofton (2011)

I often haunt the biographies section of the library, as all the fiction can make you a bit  jaded and bored.  This one was one of those that I picked up , put down and went back to.  Five nurses leave the UK and head off to the US to work at a hospital in Cleveland in the 1950s.  After living closeted lifes in post war Britain, they find a lot of freedom in the States.  Not only is work more fun, but they can leave the twinsets behind, and the girls dig out the shorts and tshirts. 

Buying an old banger of a car, they travel across the country from Cleveland to LA, up to Alaska and down to Mexico and across to Hawaii meeting all sorts along the way .  Camping a  lot of the way, they manage to work to support their two years OE.  A 3/5 for this read about five girls in a changing world.

365 Thank Yous - John Kralik

365 Thank Yous - John Kralik (2010)

I was touched by this little book, even though it wasn't quite what I expected.  At a low point in his life, as a lawyer with a failing business, and a relationship that is also faltering, the author decides that he will start to write to those people in his personal and work life who have helped him out.  After finding that these initial letters influence his friends, family and customers, he continues the practice intending to write a letter each day for a year.

A feel good book, it doesn't become preachy and I admire his ability to personalise and  truly thank each peerson for their contribution to making his life better.  Realising that by doing this he is enriching his own life, he finds that things begin to improve in his personal and work life. I was touched by the letters to friends who are ill or entering the final stages in their lives, which makes you think about the people in your own life who have helped you to get where you are.

5/5 - worth a read and makes you think about your own colleagues, family and friends.

Monday, June 13, 2011

If You Ask Me - Betty White

If You Ask Me - Betty White (2011)

Betty White is 89 years old, and fills her book with small tidbits of advice and stories about her recent fun in celebrity world.  You have to admire the woman, her commitement to the care of animals, and her ability to keep herself busy, at a time where I hope to be sitting in the sun relaxing should I live so long.

A quick read - I timed it as I started at eleven pm and was finished at fifteen before midnight.  I'm going to give this sprightly retiree a 3/5.

22 Britannia Road - Amanda Hodgkinson

22 Britannia Road - Amanda Hodgkinson (2011)

In this novel we find more displaced persons.  Silvana and her son Aurek arrive in post war Britain to meet up with  Janusz, her husband who she hasn't seen in six years.  The story flicks between the present and their early life in Warsaw together, and the journeys they mad throughout the war.  Both find it difficult to settle down in the future and are haunted by their wartime experiences.

I thought Amanda did a stellar job in telling the stories, and I was drawn into this book over a grey and chilly weekend.  It was a pleasure to curl up on the bed and read - 4/5

Good Hair

Good Hair - DVD (2010)

With Chris Rock keeping his swear words in check, we get to see him exploring various aspects about the hair industry around African American womens hair.  It is a bijillion dollar industry, and even though I have seen reviews on Oprah and other talkshows, if you skipped all the silliness about the big hair shows it did bring up some thought provoking topics.

The use of horribly toxic relaxers, and an industry that is encouraging children to use such horrid stuff on their hair and is being marketed directly at youngsters.  Big dollars are also being spent on weaves and the use of Indian hair, which is taken off worshipers at temples and sold for huge profit in the US.  I guess for me the use of someone elses hair to boost your own seems so creepy.

Told in an entertaining way, it is at least an opener into having discussions about this little secret society of big spenders.  In my own way I have my own little hair secrets.  My own hair cut and colour is pricey and  I have coloured this mop since I was 15, and one day will have to let my own greys grow in.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Huck - Janet Elder

Huck - Janet Elder (2010)

Awwww I love this dog - I would take him home and smooch him all day, I have serious scruffy puppy love and he ticks all the boxes.  Anyways, this story isn't about me.  In it Janet Elder is a journalist who finally succumbs to her sons pleas for a puppy after intense treatment for breast cancer.  When Huck is a small puppy, the family go away for a holiday they leave him with their family and fly south.  Not long after the holiday starts, they get a call to say that Huck has escaped and the family are devastated.

So they travel to the small town in New Jersey where he escaped, and enlist the help of the locals to find their small pup.  Posters are spread around, and everyone waits for phone calls to see if wee Huck can be found.

You kind of know where it is going to end, and I guess it is an uplifting story of good folks wanting to help out a family.  A quick and easy read it was a sweet 4/5.

Super 8

Super 8 (2011)

The 12 year old me would have loved this movie more.  The first third was a bit scary and the rest was silly, but it was better than watching crappy tv. 2/5

Displaced Persons - Ghita Schwarz

Displaced Persons - Ghita Schwarz (2010)

I read the blurb on this book and thought I would leave it as I knew I had a big pile of books teetering on my bedisde table.  However, I was drawn back to it and thought I would give it a go.  Though after dragging my heels through reading Untold Story, I feel like my book reading this week has been a bit like wading through thick sticky mud, slow and unyeilding.

This book tells us about Pavel, Fela and Chaim who all survive the second world war and find themsleves joined together as a sort of family, and are waiting til their visas come through so they can emigrate to Israel and the US.

We follow their stories in their new countries as their families grown and circumstances change.  Although I was touched by their stories it somehow became a bit drawn out to me and was a bit of a forced read, I was rushing through waiting for the book to end.  2/5

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Untold Story - Monica Ali

Untold Story - Monica Ali (2011)

The idea of the book is an interesting one.  What if Princess Di didn't die in the Paris tunnel in 1987, but instead slipped away from a yacht, had some surgery and turns up in a small town in the US, looking after dogs at a kennel and living a quiet life. 

It sounds like a good gremise for a plot, and somehow the author manages to make the story flat without any sparkle.  Lydia as she is called just seems dull, and you wonder how her friends don't wonder if she could be the princess.  Even with surgery one would imagine that the most photographed woman in the world could disguise the way she walks or her mannerisms.

I felt like I was being dragged through the book by my fingernails, waiting for something to happen.  Not my ideal long weekend read - 2/5.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Caleb's Crossing - Geraldine Brooks

Caleb's Crossing - Geraldine Brooks (2011)

I have spent a few days heading to bed early to tackle this one.  I had attempted to take it with me at work, but a noisy tearoom was not the place to concentrate on this one as it was wordy.  It did at several times unsettle me with the its oldy worldy language, but then it dragged me into the story and I quickly became used to it.

In the 1600s Caleb becomes the first Native American to graduate from Harvard, this is the story of him and his friend Bethia a young girl who he befriends at Marthas Vineyard.

A 4/5 for a great winter read - get stuck in.